by Roger McIntyre
|When a chess piece doesn't have any safe moves it is said to be
trapped. A classic example of this is the way a Bishop can trap a Knight that is on the
edge of the board. The diagram on the right shows such a position. No matter where the Knight
moves the Bishop will be able to capture it. Trapping is an excellent tactic that can be used
to limit a piece's effectiveness or even win the trapped piece.
||In the diagram on the left the material is equal. White has managed to trap
Black's Bishop in the corner while his own Bishop is free to roam. Although White can't capture
Black's Bishop, he is essentially playing a Bishop up and should easily win this endgame.
|A common error many beginning players make is taking "free" pawns without
considering the consequences. When a Bishop captures a Rook Pawn, it can frequently be
trapped by moving up the adjacent Knight Pawn as in the diagram on the right. White's King
will soon move to b2 winning the Bishop... and the game.
||Rooks are susceptible to being trapped on their original squares because it
usually takes a few opening moves before the Rooks can move anywhere at all. Most of the time
the trap is triggered by a Queen or Bishop taking the Knight Pawn that is diagonal to the
Rook. The diagram on the left is a good example. This position can come up in the Philidor
Defense (if Black plays badly). Black is threatening a nasty check with Qxf2 so at first
glance it looks like castling is a good move for White. White however has an even better move:
Qxb7! It is true that Black gets the check at f2 but his attack will quickly peter out and
there is no way to save his trapped Queen Rook.
|Even the mighty Queen can be trapped. The position on the right can come up
after the moves: 1. e4 d6 2. Bc4 Nd7 3. Nf3 g6 4. Ng5 Nh6. It looks like Black is defending
adequately but White has the shot 5. Bxf7+! Black is forced to take this Bishop with 5...
Nxf7 and White traps the Queen with 6. Ne6!
Last modified: 09 February 2004